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“They Did What They Liked”: Chevron and Dow on Trial

Dissent Magazine
Madhusree Mukerjee
 ▪ Fall 2014
Click here for the original article.

“They want me to be bankrupt, they want my wife to leave me, they want me to jump off a building,” says Steven Donziger, a lawyer based in New York City whose team won an unprecedented judgment against Chevron in 2011. That year, an Ecuadorean court found Texaco guilty of having polluted close to 2,000 square miles of the Amazon basin with crude oil, toxic wastewater, and other contaminants. The country’s Supreme Court eventually ordered the company’s successor, Chevron, to pay $9.5 billion for environmental remediation, medical treatment, and other relief for those affected. But Donziger’s victory painted a bull’s-eye on his back. The lawyer says he’s been watched; that he’s had laptops, thousands of documents, bank statements, and tax returns seized by court order and handed to Chevron’s lawyers; and that friends and supporters have been turned against him by threats of ruinous lawsuits.

Worst of all, this March a New York federal judge convicted Donziger under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of heading a criminal undertaking that had corrupted and intimidated Ecuadorean judges in order to shake down Chevron. (If the $9.5 billion awarded to his clients were ever collected, Donziger, who has worked on the case for most of the two decades it took to reach completion, would stand to earn millions in lawyer’s fees.) Donziger has appealed. Even if he is vindicated, however, this novel deployment of the RICO Act—normally applied to mobsters and drug syndicates—adds a particularly nasty weapon to the already formidable arsenal that U.S. multinationals have developed, with considerable help from American judges, to defeat demands for accountability by litigants in poor foreign countries.

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Boston commemorates 30th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster with vigil and chants

Boston commemorates 30th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster with vigil, chants Calls for continuing struggle for justice and ensuring “No More Bhopals”

A large number of people turned up in front of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on 77 Mass. Ave in Cambridge on Dec 3 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. A section of the official press release from the survivor groups in Bhopal was read out by Nitin Gujaran, a volunteer with Association for India’s Development (AID).

The press release called for the governments of India and US to take immediate steps towards justice. It also called for continued struggle among the international support groups to continue to press Dow Chemicals for accepting its responsibility.

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STATEMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – Justice in the USA and India

Dec 10 2014

Association for India’s Development (AID) has always stood by the struggles of the oppressed and marginalized. We have a large volunteer base in the United States and today, on Human Rights Day, we are shocked by the choke that led to the death of Eric Garner in New York and the numerous other cases of extrajudicial killings to which recent similar incidents have drawn attention. Nobody has yet been brought to justice in this case in the United States, and nobody has been brought to justice in India when on December 3, 1984, the Union Carbide plant (now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical Corp.) choked, maimed, and killed thousands of people in Bhopal. Human rights groups across the United States and India are on the streets fighting for justice, and on this day we stand for equality in the eyes of the law for all races, all people of color, and holding governments and corporations accountable for their actions around the world.

Resources:


Civil Rights issues in the US / Eric Garner case

Statement by New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)

Reaction of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

March by Civil Rights Leaders

Racial Apartheid In America

Environmental Racism and the Bhopal Gas Disaster

Letter to President Obama on the 30th Anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster

Indian and US Governments Responsible for Neglecting Bhopal Disaster


Who’s in Danger: Race, Poverty and Chemical Disasters


Environmental Justice in the US and in Bhopal, India


POEM: Struggling to Breathe —  Bhopal to New York

Click here for the original article.

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Bhopal Survivors Appeal to the World to Help End the Disaster

Press Statement

See below for attached evidence

December 3, 2014

At the rally organized of the 30th Anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, five organizations of survivors made an appeal to people all over the world to put pressure on responsible parties to end the disasters in their fourth decade. They asked supporters to help make Union Carbide, USA and its 100 % owner Dow Chemical acknowledge their roles in the continuing human suffering in Bhopal and make amends so that a realistic goal of ending the disaster by 2024 can be achieved.

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Letter to President Obama on the Occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Disaster

Mr. Barak Obama,
President, United States of America,
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20500

December 3, 2014

Subject: Letter from the Survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India.

Sir,

On the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster, we five organizations of survivors’ of Bhopal, India, wish to present the following for your consideration and action.

Today in Bhopal the death toll due to the leak of toxic gases from a pesticide factory has risen close to 25 thousand dead and counting. 150 thousand people are battling chronic illnesses. Tuberculosis and cancers are rampant. Tens of thousands of children born after the disaster carry the mark of the poisons their parents inhaled on the midnight of 2-3 December 1984.

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Bhopal Survivors: Governments of USA & India Directly Responsible for Neglecting The Ongoing Tragedy

Press Release:

Bhopal, 3rd December 2014

At the rally organized of the 30th Anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, five organizations of survivors made an appeal to people all over the world to put pressure on responsible parties to end the disasters in their fourth decade. They asked supporters to help make Union Carbide, USA and its 100 % owner Dow Chemical acknowledge their roles in the continuing human suffering in Bhopal and make amends so that a realistic goal of ending the disaster by 2024 can be achieved.

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National Trade Unions stand in solidarity

After 30 years of Bhopal Industrial Catastrophe:

Justice to the Victims of the Bhopal Gas Disaster.
Join hands with all Struggles to Ensure Responsibility of Corporations.

The night of 2 and 3 December 2014 will mark thirty years of the Bhopal gas tragedy, that killed, over 22,000 and exposed about 5,70,000 persons to damaging levels of the toxic gas, that resulted in serious health problems, including genetic mutation of thousands of unborn children. The abandoned factory site continues to threaten the health of the thousands living near. And those affected by the gas leak from the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) Bhopal gas plant still await for justice. UCC was charged with culpable homicide for the disaster, but has never come to India to face these charges despite various court summons in the last 30 years. The Dow Chemical Company (DCC), which bought UCC in 2001, has consistently denied any responsibility for the Bhopal disaster. Even on 4 August 2014, a Bhopal court issued a third criminal summon to Dow ordering the company to appear before it on 12 November 2014 and explain why it has not produced UCC before the court – this too has been violated with impunity.

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Singing together "We will continue to fight, we will not be scared"

Scottish Trades Unions’ Solidarity with Bhopal

2 December 2014

A delegation of Scottish Trade Unioni activists addressed a rally today in Bhopal support of the survivors’ 30 years of campaigns for justice. The delegation is in response to a visit by survivors to Scotland and a motion of solidarity from the Scottish Trade Union Congress disabled workers’ conference.

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Letter to the Prime Minister of India

Honourable Prime Minister,
Government of India,
North Block,
Raisina Hill,
New Delhi 110 011

December 2, 2014

Sub : 30th Anniversary Demands of the Victims of American Multinationals, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, in Bhopal.

Sir,

On behalf of the survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster, on the occasion of its 30th Anniversary, we urge you to consider the following demands of five survivors’ organizations to stop the ongoing disasters in Bhopal. In particular we wish to draw your attention to the 11 demands concerning effective action by the central government.

For a list of demands in English, click here.  To view the demands in Hindi, click here.

As you will please see, demands 2 to 7 from the Central Government are on the civil, criminal and environmental liabilities of the American Multinationals, Union Carbide Corporation and Dow Chemical that are the principal authors of the two ongoing disasters : the gas disaster and the disaster caused by environmental contamination due to reckless dumping of hazardous waste.

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Scottish Trade Union Solidarity With Bhopal

We are a Scottish Trade Union delegation who have come to Bhopal to join the people of Bhopal in marking the 30th year of your campaigns for justice, clean water and good health care. Our being here has grown from a history of Scottish people working in Bhopal and raising funds to support clinics and campaigns, and Bhopal survivors visiting Scotland on a number of occasions. It started with expressions of solidarity from Scottish Trade Union Congress disabled worker and black worker representatives. Scottish trade unions have a long history of international solidarity. We are here because Bhopal remains the worst industrial disaster of our time, but even more because the commitment, strength and endurance of the people of Bhopal provide inspiration to all of us to continue our struggles for safe workplaces and clean environments in Scotland and throughout the world. Between the 10 delegates, we represent 6 unions: Community, Communication Workers Union, University Colleges, National union of Journalists, Unison (Public Sector), Unite. We also represent: Bhopal Medical Appeal, Edinburgh Trade Union Council, European Work Hazards Network, Scottish Friends of Bhopal, Scottish Trade Union Congress, Scottish Hazards Campaign.

Click here for official statement in English and Hindi.

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Bhopal Gas Victims present their demands from Dow Chemical, Union Carbide, Govt of India and MP & US government on 30th anniversary of the disaster

November 30, 2014

At a press conference on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster, representatives of five organizations of the survivors, presented their list of demands and recent achievements of their struggle. To see the demands in English, click here. To see the demands in Hindi, click here.

Holding the two US corporations, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, primarily responsible for the ongoing disasters in Bhopal, the organizations charged both the US and Indian governments of aiding corporate crime. They demanded that Union Carbide and Dow Chemical answer criminal charges and obey Bhopal court’s summons, pay additional compensation, and arrange for clean up of the toxic contamination in Bhopal.

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Singing together "We will continue to fight, we will not be scared"

On 30th Anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster, Cambridge (MA) City Council adopts Policy Order to divest from DOW stocks

The Council members of the City of Cambridge Mass. (USA) unanimously adopted a Policy Order on Mon Nov 24 2014 initiated by the office of Councilor Nadeem Mazen. The Order, among other things, asks the City Manager to “confer with the Board of the Cambridge Retirement System to determine if they hold Dow stocks and bonds and what steps can be taken to divest from all manner of engagement with Dow.”

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Bhopal Gas Victims claim historical victory due to their agitation in Delhi

November 20th, 2014

At a Press Conference today, five organizations of survivors of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal claimed historic victory in their recent protest at New Delhi. They said that the Minister of Chemical & Fertilizers had agreed to both their demands on additional compensation for the disaster. The organizations said that they are hopeful of speedy implementation of the decisions taken at their meeting with the Minister and the bureaucrats.

“The Minister has promised full commitment to having scientific data as the basis for assessment of injury caused by Union Carbide. There is abundant evidence in medical research and hospital records to show that well over 90 % people suffered injuries that were neither minor nor temporary. They will now be entitled to Rs. 1 Lakh additional compensation that was denied to them earlier.” said Rashida Bee, of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

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We need your support – Take action against DOW

On December 2nd/3rd, 2014 it will be the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Thirty years and survivors continue to struggle for their right to adequate healthcare (and medical research), economic and social rehabilitation, adequate compensation, a pollution-free environment and justice. The Indian courts have summoned The Dow Chemical Company to explain why its subsidiary, The Union Carbide Corporation, has failed to appear and face justice. Dow, too, continues to deny responsibility and refuses to appear. Let’s let Dow know that it is not above the law.

Tell Dow: “30 years without justice. Dow Chemical is not above the law. Clean up Bhopal NOW”

Tweet: @DowChemical
Facebook: The Dow Chemical Company
Telephone: 1-800-258-2439 (US and Canada)
E-mail: http://www.dow.com/company/contact/

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Business Insider: Bhopal Still Hasn’t Recovered From The Worst Industrial Disaster In History

bhopal protestsGiles N. Clarke/Reportage by Getty

Thirty years ago on Wednesday, in the city of Bhopal in central India, a gas leak from a local Union Carbide plant moved swiftly into residential areas, poisoning victims in their sleep. Due to a lack of sufficient safety systems, killing tens of thousands (no numbers were ever confirmed) and leaving more than half a million people with serious, long-term health problems.

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Bhopal’s Deadly Legacy – New York Times

It’s been called the worst industrial accident in history, and it’s not over. Thirty years ago, during the wee hours of Dec. 3, 1984, a catastrophic gas leak from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, killed at least 5,000 people, and sickened thousands more who later died or became permanently disabled. Up to 600,000 people were affected in all. Toxic pollution from the accident severely contaminated the soil and groundwater around the site, poisoning new generations who suffer from high rates of cancer, birth defects and developmental problems. The site needs to be cleaned up, but disputes over who should pay, and where and how the toxic waste should be disposed of, has led to tragic inaction.

Justice is another casualty of the disaster. The American chemical company Union Carbide owned a majority stake in the plant at the time. In 1989, Union Carbide paid just $470 million in compensation to the Indian government — an average of $2,200 to the families of the dead and $550 to the injured — and then washed its hands of the matter.

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